The Not-So-Beaten Path
hile we commonly associate badly polluted air with city life, most of us think (at least wishfully) of our national parks as a refuge from that kind of problem. But according to a recent study released by the Western Airborne Contaminants Assessment Project (WACAP), many airborne contaminants—from heavy metals to pesticides that are no longer used in North America—have been detected at measurable levels in ecosystems at 20 western U.S. and Alaska national parks.
While the levels are not high enough to be considered dangerous to humans, it's still troubling to learn of their potential effects on the wildlife in these places where we celebrate the natural beauty of our American landscape. Many of the contaminants found in the study are coming from as far away as Europe and Asia, so the study really speaks to a need for global involvement in cleaning up the way we live. To learn more about the study's findings, visit www.nature.nps.gov/air/Studies/air_toxics/wacap.cfm.
Recreation, sports and fitness facility managers across the country have long been involved in helping make the world a little greener—whether by planning more sustainable buildings or designing landscapes that don't waste water and resources. Turn to page 50 to learn more about how the National Park Service has gotten on board and has built the first NPS building to achieve the coveted LEED-Platinum status. Or pull out the supplement and read more about how parks across the country are adopting techniques such as xeriscaping and water conservation methods to help green (literally) their landscapes.
This country's national parks are meant to be a legacy—one that will long outlast us, one that we expect to be around for our grandchildren's grandchildren to enjoy. Taking little steps at our own facilities—and asking our congressmen and others to get involved at a national and international level—might just help ensure that legacy stands the test of time.
We'd like to take this moment to acknowledge the passing of Barbara King, who was president of Landscape Structures Inc., a provider of playground equipment. For more than 30 years, King had been an advocate at the local, state and national levels for enhancing people's lives—especially families and children. In 2006, she founded the Säjai Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and healthy futures for children and families. Her contributions have been outstanding, and stand as a call to action for the rest of us.
Feel free to drop us a line. Any feedback is great; establishing an industry forum for the open exchange of ideas is even better. So don't be shy with your thoughts, opinions and questions. Any topic is fair game, and no query is too big or too little.
I read with interest your section on "1-2-3 Swim" (January 2008), and although I found the information helpful, I do believe that you have left out a very important component and information on people who suffer from aqua phobia or fear of water. In years past, you have included information about this often-forgotten population, and I know you have reported on my program, S.O.A.P. (Strategies Overcoming Aquatic Phobias) and Melon Dash's program, the Transpersonal Swimming Institute, as well.
This past October, I had the pleasure of presenting the SOAP Program at the World Aquatic Health Conference in Cincinnati, and meeting Mick and Sue Nelson. They were very much in agreement, as were many members of the National Swimming Pool Foundation, that the issue of aqua phobia is an important one to the future of aquatics. I completely understand that the most visible population is that of the traditional "Learn to Swim" and competitive programs, as well as waterparks. However, if we continue to ignore the ever-growing population of silent sufferers who are actually afraid to enter the water, we may find ourselves as an industry, as professionals who (no pun intended) missed the boat.
Jeff Krieger, MS, S.O.A.P. Director
Editor's Note: For more information on Jeff's S.O.A.P. program, visit www.waterphobias.com, and for more information on the Transpersonal Swimming Institute, visit www.conquerfear.com.
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